Last Drive: 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35d Homage and Review

By Dan Collins on 20 July 2013
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After One Year, Dan Collins and David Goldes Are Sad to Say Good-Bye

More often than not, getting a new car is considered to be a good thing. P1030364It’s the new car smell, a car still free of that scratch that months or years later still curse yourself for, and one that has all of the latest features inside and under the hood. I, on the other hand, get sentimental and nostalgic (much like Jonathan when the subject of Terminal 3 at JFK is brought up), and took a moment for one last visit with our 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35d long-term test vehicle before turning it in after 18,186 miles (29,267 kilometers).

THE “DINOSAUR” IN THE GARAGE

The timing of our X5’s departure coincides with the departure of this particular generation of the Sport Activity Vehicle. The E70, which was launched in 2007 ceased production earlier this year, and the new, third-generation “F15” X5 has been introduced, and is currently being assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The new model promises more performance, safety and tech, all in a more fuel-efficient package than before. That is all fine and dandy, but our Deep Sea Blue “dinosaur” has won over, at the minimum, my and David Goldes’ hearts.

ONE LAST TURN BEHIND THE WHEEL

Since taking delivery of our X5 at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina, IMG_9937the X5 has seen four drivers, thirteen states, and just under 19,000 miles. Because Christian Stampfer spent his time in the drivers seat blocking the left lane, driving 70 miles per hour down I-26 in South Carolina, and David is more responsible than I, the X5’s last 24 hours with The Diesel Driver focused on the Sport.

The X5’s interior was familiar, with elegant whitish “Oyster” leather and BMW’s Multi-Contour seats, one of the few car seats I’ve encountered that match up perfectly to my 6’1” frame. The iDrive controller was old news, and the Heads Up Display, while cool, was useless in the daytime because of my polarized sunglasses. The car emerged from the elevator of a New York City garage, and became the perfect method of transportation on an excruciatingly hot Manhattan evening.

How can Manhattan be sporty? Easy – it’s one of the most competitive driving environments in the world. Think of it like parcour, a horse race, NASCAR, and a game of chicken, all combined on a surface that makes off-road seem positively gentle. The X5 couldn’t have been better suited to the task. The 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel provided ample torque to pull ahead of merciless taxi cab drivers,  the brakes made double-parked delivery trucks a non-issue, and the transmission, IMG_9956in DS (Drive Sport) mode kept the car primed for an opening in the traffic. The ride height was as good for taking in the sights as it was to see over the cars around us, and just in case visibility was compromised, our X5 came equipped with a rear-view camera, two cameras under the mirrors to show a birds-eye view of the car, and two cameras in front of the front wheels, helping us see around corners.

I didn’t deprive our car of a last extra-urban blast. By 10 p.m., traffic had vanished, and the navigation system led me (this time using the HUD) out of the city and north into Westchester County. The Sprain Brook Parkway, despite its proximity to one of the world’s largest cities, is surrounded by trees and almost completely hides adjacent development. Once past White Plains, it provides, and leads to curves, where the 5,192 pound South Carolina native remained true to the “Ultimate Driving Machine” moniker.

While driving the X5, I still yearned for just a bit more power, such as found in the 306-horsepower xDrive40d or the incredible tri-turbo, 381-horsepower X5 M50d (both available in Europe but not in the States), but found that the powerplant in the X5 satisfied my need for torque far better than other vehicles in its class including the recently-updated Mercedes ML and GL350 as well as the Volkswagen Touareg TDI.

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